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When the past is present…

 

Workers Awarded $15,000,000 After Bosses Called Them ‘N–gers’ and Separated Them by Race

By Stephen A. Crockett Jr., theRoot.com

Seven Denver warehouse workers were awarded some $15 million after a federal judge found that bosses separated the blacks from other workers because of their race and called them n–gers and “lazy, stupid Africans.”

Several plaintiffs gather after the court decision.

Several plaintiffs gather after the court decision.

The judge also found that managers at Matheson Trucking and Matheson Flight Extenders Inc. discriminated against the workers “in all phases of employment, including hiring, termination, conditions of employment, promotion, vacation pay, furlough, discipline, work shifts, benefits and wages.”

The Denver Post reports that managers at Matheson, a Sacramento, Calif., company that moves large quantities of mail for the U.S. Postal Service and FedEx, forced blacks to work on one side of the warehouse, while whites worked on the other. The lawsuit filed by the workers also claimed that supervisors not only called the black employees racist names but allowed white employees to do the same, and that prime days on which workers could make double pay were given to white workers regardless of seniority.

The verdict, which was handed down Wednesday, “includes $13 million in punitive damages, $318,000 in back pay for workers who were fired for being black and another $650,000 for emotional distress,” according to the Denver Post.

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History of Lynchings in the South Documents Nearly 4,000 Names

By Campbell Robertson, the New York Times

The sites of nearly every lynching in the United States are not marked. Bryan Stevenson believes this should change.

A white crowd gathered around a 1925 lynching in Excelsior Springs, MO

A white crowd gathered around a 1925 lynching in Excelsior Springs, MO

On Tuesday, the organization he founded and runs, the Equal Justice Initiative in Montgomery, Ala., released a report on the history of lynchings in the United States, the result of five years of research and 160 visits to sites around the South. The authors of the report compiled an inventory of 3,959 victims of “racial terror lynchings” in 12 Southern states from 1877 to 1950.

Next comes the process of selecting lynching sites where the organization plans to erect markers and memorials, which will involve significant fund-raising, negotiations with distrustful landowners and, almost undoubtedly, intense controversy.

The process is intended, Stevenson said, to force people to reckon with the narrative through-line of the country’s vicious racial history, rather than thinking of that history in a short-range, piecemeal way.

“Lynching and the terror era shaped the geography, politics, economics and social characteristics of being black in America during the 20th century,” Stevenson said, arguing that many participants in the great migration from the South should be thought of as refugees fleeing terrorism rather than people simply seeking work.

“Many of these lynchings were not executing people for crimes but executing people for violating the racial hierarchy,” noted Professor E.M. Beck of the University of Georgia, meaning offenses such as bumping up against a white woman or wearing an Army uniform.

Equal Justice Initiative founder Bryan Stevenson at the site of a 1910 lynching in Dallas.

Equal Justice Initiative founder Bryan Stevenson at the site of a 1910 lynching in Dallas.

The report released Tuesday has 700 names that are not on any previous lists, many of which Mr. Stevenson said were discovered during the compilation of the report.

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3 White Mississippi Men Sentenced For Hate Crimes, Including Running Over Black Man

By Therese Apel, the Huffington Post

Three white men who pleaded guilty in Mississippi to hate crimes that included a black man’s death after he was beaten and run over were sentenced in federal court on Tuesday to between seven and 50 years in prison.

The three defendants included Deryl Dedmon, 22, who was driving the truck that ran over and killed James Craig Anderson in a hotel parking lot in 2011.

Deryl Dedmon, driver of the truck that ran over and killed James Craig Anderson.

Deryl Dedmon, driver of the truck that ran over and killed James Craig Anderson.

“The defendants targeted African-American people they perceived as vulnerable for heinous and violent assaults,” U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said in a statement. “These sentences bring a fitting end to the case against these three men.”

Dedmon received a 50-year federal prison sentence. He had previously been sentenced in state court to two life sentences.

Co-defendant John Rice, 21, was sentenced to 18-1/2 years in prison, while Dylan Butler, 23, received a seven-year sentence for his role in the attacks.

Seven other defendants are awaiting sentencing.

The three men sentenced on Tuesday, all from suburban Brandon, Mississippi, were among a group that began venturing into Jackson in spring 2011 to harass and attack black people, using weapons that included beer bottles and sling shots, authorities said.

They targeted people believed to be homeless or drunk because they thought such victims would be less likely to report the attacks to the authorities, prosecutors said.

The three were among a mob that ambushed and beat Anderson, 47, in June 2011. Dedmon then got in his truck and deliberately ran Anderson over, fatally wounding him, prosecutors said.

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‘Black Lives Matter’ Course To Be Offered At Dartmouth University

By Jessica Dickerson, the Huffington Post

Hanover, NH – “If colleges cannot address current events in an intellectually rigorous manner then what are they good for?” Mary K. Coffey, Dartmouth University’s Art History department chair, asks.

Dartmouth is set to offer a course titled “10 Weeks, 10 Professors: #BlackLivesMatter,” centered around racial inequality and violence in America. Professors across more than 10 academic disciplines, from the humanities to geography to mathematics, will come together for an interdisciplinary approach to modern and historic perspectives of America’s racial climate.

A student "die-in" protest held at Dartmouth University's Baker-Berry Library on Jan. 16

A student “die-in” protest held Jan. 16 at Dartmouth University’s Baker-Berry Library.

“The course has the potential to be revolutionary insofar as the students who take it will come away with a wide ranging critical framework for thinking through not only what happened in Ferguson (and elsewhere), but also why we continue to see so much violence perpetrated against poor people of color,” Coffey told The Huffington Post.

The course is scheduled to begin during the university’s upcoming spring term

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SC High School Students Redecorate Rock Vandalized With Racist Message

By Breanna Edwards, theRoot.com

A large rock in front of South Pointe High School was spray-painted “Happy N–ger Month” over the weekend, but students decided to turn that message into a teachable moment.

Students at South Pointe High School in South Carolina wasted no time in turning around the ugly message that had been spray-painted across a spirit rock outside the school over the weekend, turning it into a message of equality.

RockRedux

The first, racist message, which read “Happy N–ger Month” and was signed “KKK,” was discovered by a school custodian Sunday morning. The message was covered by 9 a.m. that day.

But as South Pointe students were grappling with what for many was their first real encounter with racism, they decided to decorate over the stone, sending a more positive message. Guided by art teacher Ashley Beard, three Advanced Placement art students painted, “We are all =.”

“This is an opportunity for a ‘teachable moment,’” Principal Al Leonard wrote in an email to faculty and staff on Monday. “We’re not going to let those [vandals] dictate how we react.”

The original act of vandalism is still under investigation. Leonard noted that the school has security cameras that may have caught the person or persons responsible on film.

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‘Happy N***** Month’: ‘KKK’ defaces South Carolina high school to mock first day of Black History Month

By David Edwards, rawstory.com

A South Carolina high school was vandalized with racist graffiti on the first day of Black History Month.

Officials at South Pointe High School in Rock Hill confirmed to Raw Story on Monday that vandals had struck the school on Sunday, Feb. 1.

RockHillgraffiti

Photos were posted to social media showing graffiti on a large rock that sits outside the front of the high school. The words “Happy N*gger Month” were scrawled on the rock in spray paint, and it was signed, “KKK.”

“It was discovered yesterday morning, and since then, it’s been eradicated,” a school staffer told Raw Story. “People are still calling because it was posted. Whoever did it took a picture.”

It was not immediately clear if the incident had been reported to police or if authorities were aware of a suspect.

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NYPD Unveils Anti-Terrorism Unit To Deal With Protesters

By Hilary Hanson, the Huffington Post

The New York Police Department is developing a new anti-terrorism unit that will be deployed, in part, to contend with protestors.

The “Strategic Response Group,” a unit of approximately 350 officers, will handle “disorder control and counterterrorism protection capabilities, Police Commissioner Bill Bratton announced Thursday, according to CBS New York.

The unit will be outfitted with “extra heavy protective gear, with the long rifles and the machine guns that are unfortunately sometimes necessary in these ­instances,” Bratton said, according to the New York Post.

He also noted that the unit “is designed for dealing with events like our recent protests, or incidents like Mumbai or what just happened in Paris.”

New York Police Commissioner Bill Bratton

New York Police Commissioner Bill Bratton

New York’s “recent protests,” include demonstrations in response to a grand jury’s decision to not bring charges in the death of Eric Garner, who died after being placed in a chokehold by an NYPD officer. The same month, thousands of people marched through New York City to honor Garner and others who have lost their lives at the hands of police officers nationwide.

Civil rights activists were outraged by Bratton lumping in these kinds of demonstrations with terrorist attacks.

“Thousands have marched in a massive civil rights movement demanding police reform, and the NYPD has decided to respond to the community instead by arming the police with machine guns,” Mara Verheyden-Hilliard, executive director of the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund, said in a statement.

In a statement by Communities United for Police Reform, organizing director Priscilla Gonzalez said that Bratton’s plan for a “more militarized police force” is “the opposite of progress.”

The NYPD plans for the unit to be up and running by summer.

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Cop Who Fatally Shot Sleeping 7-Year-Old Will No Longer Face Charges

By Kate Abbey-Lambertz, the Huffington Post

The Detroit police officer who fatally shot a sleeping 7-year-old girl will not be retried, officials said Wednesday.

Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy said in a statement that her office was moving to dismiss the case against Officer Joseph Weekley. He was originally charged with involuntary manslaughter and careless discharge of a firearm causing death, a misdemeanor, after Aiyana Stanley-Jones was killed in 2010 during a botched police raid at her home.

Weekley’s first trial in 2013 ended in a mistrial. In a second trial last year, Wayne County Circuit Court Judge Cynthia Gray Hathaway dismissed the manslaughter charge after a motion by the defense. The jury again deadlocked while deliberating whether to convict Weekley of the lesser charge, causing a second mistrial.

“Today we personally informed the family of Aiyana Stanley–Jones that we have made a decision that we would not be going to trial for a third time in the Joseph Weekley case,” Worthy said, calling Hathaway’s decision to dismiss the manslaughter charge “unfortunate.”

Aiyana Stanley-Jones, killed by Detroit police during a 2010 raid.

Aiyana Stanley-Jones, killed by Detroit police during a 2010 raid.

Shortly after midnight on May 16, 2010, members of the Detroit Police Department’s Special Response Team initiated a raid on the Stanley-Jones home in search of a murder suspect. Weekley was first through the door and allegedly had difficulty seeing when another officer threw a a flash-bang grenade. Weekley fired his gun, killing Aiyana, who had been asleep on the couch with her grandmother.

Weekley maintained that he only shot because the grandmother, Mertilla Jones, struck his gun. She denied touching his weapon, and at trial the prosecution questioned why Weekley had his finger on the trigger.

As activists around the country have widely protested the police killings of unarmed black individuals, Detroit residents have added Aiyana’s name to the list of victims. In October, Roland Lawrence, chairman of the Justice for Aiyana Committee, condemned the judge’s decision to dismiss the manslaughter charge against Weekley.

“Surely, the death of a baby by a well-trained police force must be deemed unacceptable in a civilized society,” Lawrence said in a statement at the time.

The prosecution will move to dismiss the case against Weekley Friday morning. Civil lawsuits filed by the family are still pending trial.

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Fired McDonald’s Employees: We Were Told, ‘Too Many Black People’ Working in the Store

By Breanna Edwards, theRoot.com

Ten former employees at three different Virginia locations of the chain restaurant allege in a lawsuit that they were fired because of their race.

McDonalds_sign

McDonald’s is under intense scrutiny after 10 former employees filed a federal civil rights lawsuit on Thursday, claiming that they were fired in May 2014 because of their race. They allege that they were told there were “too many black people working in the store,” according to a press release.

The employees—nine black and one Hispanic, who worked at three different franchise locations in Virginia—claim that supervisors habitually called one of the branches the “ghetto store” and called the black employees “ghetto” and “ratchet.”

“All of a sudden they let me go, for no other reason than I ‘didn’t fit the profile’ they wanted at the store,” Willie Betts, a former cook at one of the restaurants, said in a press release. “I had no idea what they meant by the ‘right profile’ until I saw everyone else that they fired as well.”

The employees say that when 17 minority staffers were fired in May, managers said that the restaurants were “too dark” and they “need to get the ghetto out of the store.” However, Mike Simon, who owns the three franchises is black himself, has denied any discrimination.

“I continually strive to maintain an environment in which everyone feels valued and accepted. To protect the privacy of current and past employees, I’m not at liberty to discuss issues regarding employment or termination,” Simon said in a statement released in May, the Washington Post notes. “However, my organization has a strict policy of prohibiting any form of discrimination or harassment in hiring, termination or any other aspect of employment.”

The plaintiffs in the lawsuit intend to hold McDonald’s Corporation accountable, even though the company has repeatedly claimed that it is not in control of the franchises.

“We asked McDonald’s corporate to help us get our jobs back, but the company told us to take our concerns to the franchisee—the same franchisee that just fired us,” plaintiff Pamela Marable said in the release. “McDonald’s closely monitors everything we do, from the speed of the drive-through line, to the way we smile and fold customers’ bags—but when we try to tell the company that we’re facing discrimination, they ignore us and say that it’s not their problem.”

In a written statement to the Root, McDonald’s USA said, “We have not seen the lawsuit, and cannot comment on its allegations, but will review the matter carefully. McDonald’s has a long-standing history of embracing the diversity of employees, independent Franchisees, customers and suppliers, and discrimination is completely inconsistent with our values. McDonald’s and our independent owner-operators share a commitment to the well-being and fair treatment of all people who work in McDonald’s restaurants.”

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Woman Shocked to See Brother’s Mug Shot Used as Police Target Practice

Six mug shots used for target practice by snipers from the North Miami Beach (Fla.) Police Department.

Six mug shots used for target practice by snipers from the North Miami Beach (Fla.) Police Department.

By Stephen A. Crockett Jr., theRoot.com

Florida Army National Guard Sgt. Valerie Deant was reduced to tears Saturday after she arrived at a firing range and found that target photos left behind by a local police sniper team were live mug shots, including a photo of her brother.

The North Miami Beach, Fla., police department is under fire after a woman discovered that not only were police using actual mug shots of African-American men as shooting targets at a firing range, but that one of the men in the photos, bearing bullet holes from a police pistol, was the woman’s brother.

On Saturday, Sgt. Valerie Deant went to a shooting range with other troops from the Florida Army National Guard for “annual weapons qualifications training,” according to NBC Miami.

North Miami Beach police snipers had used the range before them, and once Deant and her fellow guardsmen arrived they were shocked to see that mug shots of African-American men were used as target practice. Deant found that one of the men in the photos was her brother, Woody Deant, whose mug shot was taken 15 years ago. Woody Deant was 18 years old when the photograph was taken

“I was like, ‘Why is my brother being used for target practice?'” Deant told the news station. “There were like gunshots there, and I cried a couple of times.”

According to NBC Miami, the Medley Firearms Training Center leases the shooting range to law-enforcement agencies in the area and is not responsible for supplying targets to visitors.

While North Miami Beach Police Chief J. Scott Dennis admits that the snipers could have used better judgment, he doesn’t believe that the use of an all-African-American photo lineup for target practice is racial profiling, and added that his sniper team has minority officers. Dennis also told the news station, “Pictures are vital for facial-recognition drills.”

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